Heather and Grouse Disease

Published on 01 August 1918 in Main articles

I AM indebted for the facts relative to ancient Grouse disease to an old keeper who served for fifty years on the Argyll estates. In his boyhood he accompanied his grandfather (a fox-hunter by profession) on his rounds, and from him gathered information about Grouse and other matters back to about the year 1750. According to this old fox-hunter, whose trips in pursuit of his quarry extended to most parts of Argyll, Red Grouse (Lagopus scoticus) were scarce during his lifetime, though Blackgame (Lyrurus t. britcmnicus) were plentiful, affording sport with the unwieldy musket then in use. My informart began his career as a keeper in the year 1842, at which period no shootings had ever been let in Kintyre. The Duke of Argyll in that year placed a head, and five under-men, on the ground, to kill down the vermin and await the coming of possible tenants. At this period (1842) Grouse were scarce, but increased rapidly in number owing to the measures taken for their protection. A Captain McGregor was the first Grouse tenant in Kintyre. He was succeeded by Mr. St. John, whose writings helped so much to popularize the Highlands as a sporting resort. He held the ” Moil ” shooting but one season, giving place to a party of gentlemen known as the ” Company,” and in the second year of their tenancy, the year 1846, Grouse disease made its first (and worst) appearance. The keepers, prior to the outbreak, were not aware of the

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